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20/20 GeneSystems, Weizmann's Yeda Collaborate on Lung Cancer Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cancer diagnostics firm 20/20 GeneSystems and Yeda R&D, the technology transfer company of the Weizmann Institute of Science, today announced a collaboration aimed at commercializing a lung cancer test developed by researchers at Weizmann.

The test measures a panel of DNA repair enzymes that often is lower in individuals with lung cancer and then assesses whether a patient is predisposed to the disease, possibly years before a tumor is formed. The partners said that the test could be used on individuals with a family history of lung cancer or those exposed to second-hand smoke and other pollutants. Those with a very low DNA repair score — correlating to a higher lifetime risk of lung cancer — would be advised to undergo yearly screening with 20/20's PAULA's test and/or radiographic test and to possibly make lifestyle changes.

PAULA's test, short for Protein Assay Using Lung Cancer Analytes, measures a panel of biomarkers that result from the early presence of a tumor. It is marketed by 20/20's Genesys BioLabs business unit.

Under the terms of the deal announced today, 20/20 has the option to exclusively license the Weizmann test following additional blinded validation studies that will be conducted during the summer using blood samples from the US and Europe. In the meantime, 20/20 will perform market research in the US and China, where a high incidence of smoking and air pollution is anticipated to result in demand for the test, as well as PAULA's test, the partners said.

Zvi Livneh, dean of Weizmann's biochemistry faculty, and Tamar Paz-Elizur, who works in Livneh's lab, developed the Weizmann test.

"20/20's early entry into the field of lung cancer testing makes them an ideal commercial partner for translating our research into a marketed product, which in combination with early detection and treatment we expect to save thousands of lives each year around the world," Livneh said in a statement.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

20/20 is based in Rockville, Md., and develops tests for the early detection of cancer and therapy selection.